Malik, ‘The Ontology of Finance: Price, Power, and the Arkhéderivative’
June 24, 2015
In what promises to be a significant contribution to political economy, Malik seeks to combine the philosophical understanding of the nature and logic of the derivatives market with an analysis of the entirely novel, structurally-specific mode of capitalist power it expresses. This ambitious ‘ontology of finance’ supplements Ayache’s understanding of the fundamental logic of derivatives with Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler’s account of capital as power. Such a ‘power theory of finance’ answers both to Ayache’s claims as to the singular importance of derivatives for an understanding of pricing as such, and to Land’s claim that risk-bearing vehicles and agencies tend to corrode the inherited social forms from which they historically emerge.
According to Malik, though, this inquiry requires the adjunction of Nitzan and Bichler’s understanding of capital qua absentee ownership, with its primary ordering mechanism of differential accumulation. Equally, however, it necessitates a supplement to Nitzan and Bichler’s own account: the latter already agree that ownership of property, stocks, bonds, and derivatives all pertain ultimately to the same, immanent market, with all of them being ordered by means of the universal mechanism of pricing (namely, through the discounting of anticipated future earnings).
They also countenance the refusal to subordinate the analysis of capitalism to any dependency upon conditions exogenous to finance (diverging from Marxism in insisting that finance is not an excrescence of ‘real production’ or a ‘parasitical, supplementary or “fictitious” mode of capital’). However their analysis must be extended to take account of the specific operations of derivatives, in order that it might encompass the new modalities through which their complex operations multiply and transform the power axiom of differential accumulation, and, crucially, the transformations they bring about in the inherent dimension of sabotage that Nitzan and Bichler see as integral to capital-power.
The Ontology of Finance: Price, Power, and the Arkhéderivative
Malik, Suhail. (2014). In Collapse Vol. VIII: Casino Real. Edited by MacKay, Robin. Falmouth, UK. Urbanomic, pp. 629-811.